Saturday, April 21, 2012

Birding Field Trips

I'm a member of the Williamson Audubon Meetup group.  There is a group of us on a field trip to the Central Texas coast - the Corpus Christi-Rockport-Fulton area.  We went to seven locations today and as a group we saw around 75 bird species.  Did everyone see every species?  No . . . But on my own, I would not have been able to identify everything that I saw.  Plus many eyes are better than one when locating little birds flitting around in the leaves of the trees or that hawk soaring high in the sky.  I truly believe that one of the best ways to become a better birder is to spend time out in the field with people who really know their birds.  Today was one of those days.

These are only the birds I saw.  There were at least 6-10 other species that were also seen by members of my group. 

It was a great day to be outdoors, appreciating the amazing variety of species in God's creation

Blucher park
Franklin's gull 
Baltimore oriole male and female
Orchard oriole male and femaleSummer tanager
Black chinned hummingbird
Black and white warbler
Chestnut sided warbler
Golden fronted woodpecker
Black throated green warbler
Inca dove
Common yellowthroat
Bronzed cowbird
Broadwing hawk
Rose breasted grosbeak
Chimney swift
Indigo bunting
House wren
Blue wing/golden wing back cross warbler (not quite a brewsters')
Northern mockingbird
European starling
House sparrow

Polliwog Pond - Water treatment site
Scarlet tanager male
Female western tanager - we think so because of a wing bar seen
White eyed vireo
Female summer tanager
Swanson hawk
Crested caracara

Hazel Bazemore County Park
Black bellied whistling duck
Least sandpiper
Blue wing teal
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Northern shoveler
Long billed dowitcher
Semi palmated sandpiper
Snowy egret
Mottled duck
Green heron
Northern harrier

Grass farm 
Upland sandpiper
Buff breasted sandpiper

Tulle Lake
Western sandpiper
Gull bill tern
Neotropic Cormorant
Brown pelican
White pelican
Great blue heron
Great egret
Least tern
Tri color heron
Black-necked Stilt
Stilt sandpipers
Lesser yellowlegs
Roseate spoonbills
Least tern
Ring bill gull
Forester tern
Red wing blackbird

Rose Hill Cementery
Mourning dove
Hummingbird. Mostly gray
Turkey vulture
Robin???? In flight
Common tern????

Blucher Park (p.m.)
Orchard oriole male
Orchard oriole female
Baltimore oriole male

Monday, April 16, 2012

East Texas Flowering Dogwoods

I was fortunate to get to go to East Texas this spring. While the dogwoods were late blooming this year, there were a few trees in full bloom. When they are all in bloom it is magical, because the small understory tree becomes a bright elegant white tree that attracts your attention in the deep woods.

Flowering Dogwoods are understory trees that prefer the deep shade of the forest. Dogwoods occur from East Texas and Missouri all the way to Maine.  The red fruit ripens in the fall feeding squirrels, deer, and 28 bird species.  Unfortunately there is a powerful fungus threatening dogwoods, dogwood anthracnose, that is spreading rapidly throughout the range of dogwoods in the United States.  It kills the tree within  two to three years.  I hope that scientists are wrong who predict that there is little hope of saving flowering dogwood in the wild.

I was with a photographer friend, Nancy Damron.  Because they were not in full bloom, we had to pay attention to find dogwoods in bloom at the Davey Dogwood Park in Palestine, Texas. We were rewarded for our careful searching with several trees that were in bloom.

The blooms are delicate and to get all the details in the texture, I had to be careful not to overexpose them.

When you're photographing them, you keep going around and around the tree trying to see how many compositions you can find.

The light was never quite right to capture the entire bloom covered trees, but individual branches filled with the delicate blossoms.

While generally, I like to photograph flowers in shade, the gentle touch of the morning sun really made them sparkle.